Gov. John Kasich speaks to the Ohio Senate at the close of the session. Kasich's proposed budget passed earlier this week. (File photo)
Gov. John Kasich speaks to the Ohio Senate at the close of the session. Kasich's proposed budget passed earlier this week. (File photo)
By Alex Woodring
Staff Writer

PUTNAM COUNTY - A 40 year staple of state government subsidizing was ousted this past week when Republicans in the Ohio Senate and House passed Kasich's latest budget.

Previously, the state paid for the first ten percent of all property taxes with an additional 2.5 percent for owner-occupied properties. With House Bill 59, the state's two-year operating budget, the state will only maintain the rollback on renewal levies.

The new legislation could cause issues for local governments as well as schools as any local government or school with new or replacement levies on the November ballot will have a higher price tag than originally stated. Whereas the state would previously front partial cost, the full cost will fall directly to the tax payer.

Putnam County Trustee Association President and Jennings Township Trustee Dave Wieging sees the move as another way local government is getting slighted by Columbus.

"Well, it is just another way to take tax money away from everybody," said Wieging. "It [the 12.5 percent rollback] just isn't going to be there any more and someone is going to have to pick that up."

When asked if he sees Ohio's latest budget as another slight to local government, Wieging responded with an emphatic, "Yes."

"Sure Columbus isn't raising taxes on anybody but they are going to force everybody else to," said Wieging. "That is 12 and a half percent that was on there that will now have to be picked up by the people. It will be harder to get things passed, I imagine."
Putnam County Commissioner Travis Jerwers shares a similar view to Weiging.

"Personally, I am disappointed in that action," said Putnam County Commissioner Travis Jerwers. "I think they are stewards and they set standards for us on the local government level. Sometimes we need an extra hand and we can't handle everything on our own. And if they don't give it there it is going to put us in an awkward position and they can't expect people out there, when the economy is up and down and not the greatest, to do this."

Commissioner Jerwers is concerned about where the 12.5 percent would be going if not local townships and schools.

"I think they have the ability to do that cash and therefore they have a responsibility just like us [county government]," said Jerwers. "Where will that money go? I think they need to keep it right here. They need to think of the little guys. I'm concerned that they are worried more about the big C's- Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati."

Commissioner Vince Schroeder believes he knows where all that money will go.

"The idea is they are lowering taxes overall," said Schroeder. "I think the best way to tax is through a sales tax not a property tax. With their other tax cuts the money will be there for any new levy."

"I want to shift away from any property or income tax and put it more on sales tax," Schroeder said. "At the end of the day it is the same amount of money, it is just coming from different places. For example, when a school passes how much it would cost for a levy, it is going to be the same amount of money. The taxpayers just won't be getting the rollback. So it will seem like they are paying higher taxes. But the state has lowered income taxes so it will break even and the school will get the same amount of money. I mean you could say that the rollback was coming from income tax anyway."

Commissioner John Love was not as optimistic as Schoreder regarding the new budget.

"I don't know if it will have a serious impact on the ability of villages and townships to operate," said Love. "I say that because of the lack of local government funds."

The budget also contains $717 million more in basic per-pupil subsidies for K-12 schools over the next two years. However, many point out this number does little to make up for the previous budget's slashes in funding.